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Tradition Club, Myrtle Beach National join forces

Myrtle Beach National Co. has taken over management of its third course in the past six months as it continues to add to the largest collection of courses on the Grand Strand.

The addition of Tradition Club in Pawleys Island gives Myrtle Beach National ownership and/or management of 13 Strand courses, including three 27-hole facilities.

The company owned and managed nine courses for several years, and took over management of Wild Wing Plantation in December, Wachesaw Plantation East in August and Blackmoor Golf Club in September 2008. It also began marketing for the TPC of Myrtle Beach earlier this month.

"We're done for awhile," said Jim Woodring, MBN's vice president of golf operations and marketing. "We're into the season now and I don't anticipate anything else happening. We have business to do and tee times to book."

Tradition Club is surrounded by a number of MBN properties, including Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort, which includes accommodations, a spa and golf, and a couple courses on the same entrance road off U.S. 17 South in the Litchfield Beach area. So it will easily be incorporated into MBN-generated golf packages.

"With Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort right at the entrance to Willbrook Boulevard it is a perfect complement to our other three courses that we own in the Litchfield/Pawleys Island area," Woodring said. "It's a good course, the right price point, and it's the right locale for our resort."

MBN will oversee the marketing, pro shop and outside operations and maintenance of the 18-hole Ron Garl design, which was awarded 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest in its 2008 "Best Places to Play Guide," though the Tradition staff hasn't changed.

Tradition Club is owned by three men and has been a stand-alone course since it opened in 1996, though it has always shared a lot of business with MBN because of its location.

"We've always been very business-friendly with them and they've always been that way with us," said Tradition Club general manager and superintendent Clay DuBose. "This is just a more formal way of getting together and letting them help us out. It just makes sense. I think it's a really good move. We just feel they're some of the leaders in the industry here at the beach."

DuBose said MBN is attractive to independent courses in a competitive golf market during a tough economy because of the increasing economies of scale of its marketing and golf package operations.

"The market has gotten really tight and the way people book their rounds of golf has significantly changed. They've gone so much more to the Internet and last-minute tee times," DuBose said. "It's so hard to get that kind of Web presence alone. If you type in Myrtle Beach and golf it's hard not to get them to come up. You have to work not to get to their Web site."

Though Myrtle Beach National may not be adding more courses anytime soon, the trend of independent courses joining larger management companies on the Strand is likely to continue. "I'm sure there's bound to be some more," DuBose said.

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